Tag Archive | Jesus

Guest Author Interview with Mary Englund Murphy

 Greetings! My Women’s Bible Study is currently studying Joseph, Beyond the Coat of Many Colors, written by my writer friend Mary Englund Murphy. We are loving it!

Below is an interview with her regarding the study. Check it out if you are looking for a Bible Study for your group. Leave a comment and one blessed person will receive a free copy. 

  • Joseph is such a well known Biblical figure; there must be numerous books and Bible studies on him. What prompted you to write this study?

There are a many books, but few Bible studies devoted entirely to his story. Several authors include a “Joseph” chapter, but few studies are entirely devoted to him.

  • Your title is intriguing “Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors”. What does your subtitle suggest?

I spent four years studying and writing about Joseph and I was amazed at the new insights I gained when I put my preconceived ideas aside. Many of us who were raised in church have what I call a Sunday school or flannel graph view of Joseph and therefore we miss many of the treasures that are found in a deeper study of his life. We often visualize him as a little boy dressed in a multi-colored striped bathrobe. This Bible study goes way beyond all the preconceived notions about Joseph.

  • Give us a brief overview of Joseph’s story for those who may not be familiar with the Bible?

Joseph’s story is found in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. He was the eleventh, and favorite, of the twelve sons of Jacob and was literally despised and hated by his brothers. When Joseph was seventeen years old, his father gave him the famous coat. The brothers plotted to murder Joseph but ended up selling him to slave traders. He spent thirteen years as a slave and a prisoner in Egypt until Pharaoh heard that he could interpret dreams. When Joseph gave Pharaoh God’s interpretation he was promoted to second in command of the nation. Joseph saved the country from famine and eventually was reunited with his family and brought them to Egypt.

  • Okay, so Joseph had a few very trying years, but look how it all turned out for him – wealth, prestige, honor, a wife and children, and he was restored to his family. Anyone could make it through a few difficulties with all that in their future, right?

That’s exactly what I was referring to previously. We tend to view Joseph from an overall perspective – the favored child, the multi-colored coat, some conflict with his brothers, a few rough years in Egypt, then promotion to wealth and prosperity. Sometimes we think he persevered with virtually no emotional issues, but the Scriptures indicate that he did he have challenges with the same things we struggle with like shattered hopes and depression. Joseph was a great man but he had feelings just like the rest of us.

  • The term “blended family” is used to describe families that have step-children and step-parents or half-siblings or step-siblings. How do you see Joseph fitting into those categories?

Joseph’s father Jacob simultaneously had two wives and two concubines, and all four women produced children. Though culturally acceptable, there were jealousies and conflict galore. Joseph’s family gave new meaning to the blended and dysfunctional family. This Bible study addresses many of those issues.

  • In this area, you can relate to Joseph. Tell us a little about your family background.

I was born into a broken/blended home. My parents were married a total of 10 times. I’ve had 3 stepfathers, two stepmothers, and 21 step, half and adopted brothers and sisters. In fact, my own family background is one of the primary reasons I decided to write about Joseph; I can relate to him in so many areas.

  • You recently received some good news in regard to your Joseph Bible study. Can you share that with us?

“Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors” won the 2012 SELAH award for best Bible study. This book is my heart of hearts so it was especially meaningful and a true honor.

  • Many of the books and studies about Joseph focus on grace and forgiveness. Can you talk about some of the other things we can learn from his life?

His story is a wealth of information on raising children, dealing with jealousy, disappointments, peer pressure, sexual purity, employee/employer relationships, and what to do when you feel like God doesn’t care.

  • Is this study just for women?

Definitely not! It can be used for individuals, group Bible studies, and Sunday school. I recently heard of a couple who co-taught it in their couple’s class. You can do the study in eight weeks but I recommend taking it slow and more in-depth.

  • What primary message do you want people to take away from this study?

To understand God knows the end of your story just as He knew the end of Joseph’s. Don’t give up; remember God is working in your life with purpose just as He did in Joseph’s. God isn’t finished with you yet.

  • Where is the study available?

At your local book store or http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Beyond-Following-Through-Character/dp/0899573339/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

Do You Know Your Neighbors?

Do you know your neighbors?

Last spring, our pastor asked us what we are doing in our own neighborhoods to grow relationships that could point our neighbors to JESUS. To point them to the One who loves them more than they could ever hope or imagine being loved.

I was struck dumb when I thought about it.

Most of our neighbors save the ones on either side or below us I don’t even know. I know some of their names and would recognize their faces maybe but that is as far as it goes. I decided to pray for ideas about what I might do and decided to resurrect our outdated neighborhood directory, penned before we arrived in 2003.

I put a letter in everyone’s mailbox inviting them to join. With the responses I made a spread sheet and email group, then printed and laminated a hardcopy. Next, I rolled the sheets, tied them with ribbon and put one in every mailbox, weather they signed up or not. At first, only half the residents joined, once they saw it many more did.

Having an updated directory has been so great to warn each other about thieving foxes, menacing bears and mountain lions prowling about. We have used it to secure house sitters and baby sitters, to borrow eggs and share holiday sentiments.

Then last fall, just before Thanksgiving, a band of burglars invaded our street. In one night at least 6 houses were affected. If we hadn’t had the directory, we wouldn’t have known each other had been hit. When the police came they listened to everyone’s account of the events and cautioned us that it sounded like the thieves were casing the place. Trying to see how easy it would be to gain entry. The officers warned the burglars might come back and really load up.

In the weeks following, we’ve been amazed to watch our community. On our way home one afternoon a truck with a trailer parked at the end of our cul-de-sac. I stopped and politely asked the men standing there what they were doing. One of the men looked at me with a puzzled expression and said they were renovating the house they were parked in front of. From their faces, I knew they had been asked that question before.

Ryan to the South of us, installed security cameras pointing up and down our street so anyone who enters will have their license plate recorded.

Everyone is more friendly and talkative. We have all been keeping an eye pealed for any unfamiliar vehicles or individuals.

Seems funny that GOD would prompt me to renew our neighborhood directory just a few months before it would be a GODSEND? This experience has been a great reminder to me that He is all knowing, all powerful and all in control. And He has our backs.

I am trying to be a better listener to His prompts on my heart.  We are hoping to have a get together in the spring and invite the whole neighborhood crew.

How about you? Do you know your neighbors? The mission field is ripe for the harvest but the workers are few. It’s not necessary to go to Africa to be a missionary.